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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sokotel Plans to Open 5 Outlets in St. Pete's

ST. PETERSBURG -- Finnish hotel operator Sokotel plans to build five new hotels in the center of St. Petersburg over the next six years, the company announced last week in a statement.

"Over the last two years we have announced three large projects in St. Petersburg. Just a year ago we had nothing here in this spot, and today we see a beautiful building," said Juhani Jarvenpaa, general manager of SOK Holding, which owns the Sokotel chain.

"In Finland, we would not have been able to construct the building so fast," he said.

SOK is currently looking for land plots in the center of St. Petersburg to construct its new hotels, which will add around 1,000 new rooms to the company's books.

The company is considering both state-owned and private land plots, Jarvenpaa said.

All the new hotels will be in the four-star category and will have 200 to 300 rooms. Construction of one hotel may take up to two years, while the entire project is expected to take six years.

SOK estimated total investment into new hotels at $50 million. In addition to its own investment, the company expects to attract about $213.5 million from partner investors. Jarvenpaa expects the same partners that financed the construction of Sokos Hotel Olympic Garden to join SOK in its new ambitious ventures.

Real estate experts were positive about Sokotel's new projects.

"The company will very probably find appropriate land plots for new developments or land plots that could be redeveloped," said Tatyana Chursina, senior consultant at Colliers International's investment department.

"The hotel operator should not face any particular problems. Any new hotel projects are welcomed by local authorities, as hotels are a priority at the moment, and operators can find all the conditions necessary for development," Chursina said.

Four-star hotels are a very popular segment, especially for foreign tourists, she said.

SOK is currently completing the construction of three hotels in St. Petersburg, which will offer around 900 rooms. The company invested about $178 million into these projects.

Sokotel, which also operates hotels in Finland and Estonia, employs 110 people in Russia and plans to hire up to 400 people by the end of 2008.

Other projects included the Sokos Hotel Vasilyevsky, which will begin operating at the start of 2008, and the recently completed five-star Holiday Club, which is due to open its doors later this month.

n Tekmanni Service, a Finnish facility services provider, announced Friday that it won a contract to maintain the technical building systems of Sokos' hotels in St. Petersburg.

Tekmanni, a subsidiary of Finnish construction company Lemminkainen, will conduct scheduled servicing and repair work on the hotels' technical building systems, including its fire detection and sprinkler systems, the company said in a statement.